uniting your mind, body and baby
By Michelle Mayefske
My journey with yoga began when I was only a teenager. Yoga had started to become mainstream and people were just beginning to attend classes in the States because of the many associated health and fitness benefits. I started attending classes at my local gym during secondary school. I wanted to feel better physically and was pleasantly surprised when yoga also helped me emotionally during a very difficult time.
At sixteen years old (and still a child myself), I became pregnant with my son. The stress and anxiety that came along with being a soon-to-be teen parent was overwhelming to say the least. I attended a small prenatal yoga class that was very focused on trying various poses to help with general aches and pains associated with pregnancy, but also aimed at preparing the body for labour.
My positive experience with my first yoga class encouraged me to attend a second one during that same pregnancy. I left my classes feeling empowered and more prepared for labour, which seemed so daunting at the time. For each of my subsequent births I have attended prenatal yoga and I have not left a class thinking it was a waste of time or not worth the effort.
WHICH CLASS IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
There are many types of prenatal yoga classes and they all offer something different. The first class I took, for example, was very focused on the physical poses themselves. As I branched out to other prenatal yoga classes, I came to realise that all instructors have a different approach to birth preparation. Some classes are mainly poses, some involve relaxation techniques, others teach visualisation and some are a combination of all of these. Personally, I really enjoy a yoga class that focuses at least half of the time on physical poses. I attended a prenatal yoga class in Limerick recently that literally only had me physically moving during 15 min. of a 90 min. class. While the relaxation and visualisation techniques that I learned certainly did have value, I found myself leaving the classes wanting more. My best advice in this regard is to talk to the yoga instructor before attending their class. Specifically ask how much time is dedicated to physical poses and other birth preparation techniques before you commit to attending.
The benefits that I experienced most following prenatal yoga were the physical preparations for birth and the union that yoga helped me foster. I left classes feeling energised and overall more open versus tense, especially in my hips and pelvis. I felt more connected and confident with my body, my intuition, my pregnancy, my baby and my experience! There are times even when we are feeling our baby's movements almost every hour of every day that we can feel disconnected from ourselves and the journey we are on. Prenatal yoga has helped me remain mindful and more engaged in my pregnancy experience and I will always be thankful for that! It truly helped create a union between my mind, pregnant body and my baby. It's the reason I keep going back to prenatal yoga with each of my pregnancies!
If you're considering prenatal yoga, inquire with your local yoga centres or look online where classes are often advertised. The classes are tailored specifically for pregnancy and normally come in a series of sessions with an optional drop-in price as well. If you're on the fence about attending a class, take a look at these wonderful benefits and don't be afraid to contact a prenatal yoga instructor with any questions you may have!
THE BENEFITS OF ANTENATAL YOGA
Increased muscle tone and flexibility (especially for labour)
Reduction of stress and anxiety
Learn valuable techniques for birth, including relaxation and visualisation
Improved sleep quality
Feeling more connected to your pregnancy and baby
Reduced risk of preterm labor and low birth weight for your baby
Class provides a time and space to focus solely on you
You can connect with other parents in the class